Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Twist and Shout

I don't think there's a shopping mall in America lacking an Auntie Anne's pretzel stand. We've all seen this fictitious relative's contributions to modern society - hot baked dough drenched in butter or perhaps dipped in cinnamon sugar. Although their pretzels' authenticity is highly suspect - these are nothing like the ones made famous in Philadelphia, of course - Auntie Anne's gets props for loosening up the once-starchy pretzel market.

The first gluten-free soft pretzels to approximate Auntie Anne's style are ones from Tonya's Gluten Free Kitchen, based in Lebanon County, Pennsylvania. Founder Tonya Bernard and her daughter Callie were diagnosed with celiac disease in 2002. After becoming frustrated by the limited bread options, Tonya set out to develop her own gluten-free recipe. From there, she began to work on other creations.

Tonya's pretzels displayed at
Appetite for Awareness
"One thing Cailie and I missed was a buttery soft pretzel," says Tonya. "My parents and I were experimenting with different recipe combinations and stumbled upon a product that reminded us of that famous aunt’s soft pretzel. With a few modifications and months of experimenting, we came up with a soft pretzel that we are very enthusiastic about."

Today, Tonya makes soft pretzels and pretzel nuggets in regular and cinnamon-sugar varieties, along with whoopie pies, bread and other baked goods. Having tried the pretzel nuggets at last year's Appetite for Awareness and the recent CHOP celiac conference, I can tell you that they were among the most popular samples in the house.

Among southeastern Pennsylvania retailers carrying the pretzels and other Tonya's products are Shop n Bag in Dresher, West Chester's Great Pumpkin, Kimberton Whole Foods stores, Martindale's Natural Market in Springfield and Nature's Garden in Reading.
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  1. I tried these at A4A last year and they are delicious. I went back to their both about 4 times for more samples. I hope to find them in NYC soon!

  2. Too bad it is only a regional PA thing. I can still remember the taste and texture of a good soft-pretzel (pre-GF-diet days). Yum! I have yet to encounter anything like that here in Houston, TX. I expect that given enough time, more options will emerge here and elsewhere; perhaps even this brand's product will make it here.